Over the past few years, the benefits of moving to the cloud have been widely discussed. Aside from the more traditional benefits the cloud can offer (i.e. scalability, interoperability, OPEX instead of CAPEX investments), Gartner analysts are beginning to predict that in just over a few years a large percentage of the IT spending will originate from the marketing department instead of the IT department.
As cloud infrastructures and vendor solutions evolve, marketers have recognised the potential of running digital communications activities in a cloud environment in order to unleash the full value of customers’ information and preferences alike.
Using Big Data and predictive software services in the cloud opens up brand new opportunities to compete and generate incremental revenues. As a result, methodical precision, accuracy and scientific algorithms will be at the forefront to have a more interactive dialogue to win new customers and execute online and mobile campaigns.
This article aims to explore how cloud solutions can benefit the marketing department in delivering timely campaigns and communication to customers which are in line with the latest customer trends without large up front capital investments. Specifically, it will delve into this transformation which is affecting the marketing industry and will provide an overview of the different cloud models available.
The message is changing
The biggest change that we are starting to see in the marketing landscape is the transition from an en-masse broadcast call-to-action approach to a media-rich, real time custom messaging strategy. The aim is to use specific information to communicate more effectively to individual customers when and where they want. Surrounded by all sorts of branded messaging coming from magazines, emails, mobile and online, consumers are now seen to be engaging more with those companies that strive to run customised content-driven campaigns, rather than reiterate flat and visual corporate messages.
As a result of new trends such as video advertising, mobile apps and the development of the latest mobile technologies, the marketing landscape is growing very complex, with the need for marketers to target their audiences in different and innovative ways. Cloud infrastructures now allow marketers to take advantage of these trends, as the amount of data being generated can be carefully scrutinised and analysed, in order to deliver the most engaging online campaigns.
In the cloud world, mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets are likely to play a key role in providing a platform to deliver faster messaging, supported by the ever growing number of branded apps available that allow push notifications. What has changed is the shift from a traditional market research approach in mass communication, to an automated and more controlled one, that harnesses analytical thinking to the detriment of what once was a creative activity.
High frequency trading
The change in messaging is pushing companies to re-think their strategies and assess the suitability of already existing channels of communications to match these trends. As cloud computing is able to deliver a new experience, companies are gradually being pushed to reinvent existing channels in order to remain competitive.
This shift in marketing communications can be compared to the evolvement of stock dealings in Wall Street, after the mass introduction of smart devices and the internet. As trading used to begin very early in the morning, the first person to have the share price had a competitive advantage as he could trade stocks at the best value, securing the chance to make a profit. Nowadays, the internet has revolutionised the way Brokers access market information. As a result, the pace has dramatically increased as stock firms have re-thought their plans to be able to play. Now information is transferred from machine to machine with algorithms. And the large stock exchanges such as the NYSE and Euronext were acquired by an electronic trading firm called ICE.
Similarly, the implementation of cloud solutions allow marketers to share corporate messaging or promotional content much faster, making it more challenging for companies to be heard and stand out. Marketing messages are calculated with complex algorithms across massive data sets travelling at the speed of light and reaching specific customers in relation to their exact location, in order to maximise profitability.
Furthermore, companies are now able to play a different game, as they can respond to competition much quickly. For instance, companies can now send e-coupons for a specific product whilst their potential customers are walking through a shopping mall, rather than investing money on traditional promotions in the form of gigantic billboards in “strategic” locations. As a result, competition is getting fierce and the IT spending on brand new services must be carefully taken into consideration in order to generate more revenues.
A brand new toolset
As this new marketing approach hinges on speed and precision rather than creativity, it is vital for companies to rely on the fastest computing performance available, in order to deliver timely communications and scale up or down as capacity is needed. Success or failure of marketing campaigns will be measured in milliseconds, therefore it is imperative that any cloud infrastructure supporting this brand new form of marketing is fully equipped and sufficiently robust, consistently delivering the highest computing power possible to remain competitive.
Specifically, companies are presented with a two-fold cloud solution, which involves both multi-tenant virtual environments and dedicated machines. Although hybrid cloud solutions are suitable for content delivery, as they allow marketing departments to implement hardware which already sits in house, geo-location messaging and number-crunching activities require a bare metal infrastructure. This is because dedicated machine architecture provides the highest amount of power needed to avoid clogs and buffering, thus delivering a reliable service which is capable of handling tasks in real-time.
It is increasingly necessary to bring connectivity closer to the end user. There is a fundamental need for companies to search for the best-in-class technology that can provide the fastest access to the cloud backbone network through geographically diverse points of presence (PoP). This will only intensify the competition in the race towards customer engagement, as only the companies that will be able to reach the consumer at just the right time will be the ones to win out.
What we are witnessing is an unprecedented development in IT offerings, which has begun to affect several parts of the organisation. Marketing professionals are being challenged on multiple levels, as they need to match current trends in communications and customers’ behaviour with the use of cloud infrastructures as a channel.
The amount of information which companies can now exploit is enormous and cloud-based infrastructures allow for this data to be scrutinised and delivered at the speed of light. Companies which are starting to consider the use of cloud for marketing purposes are faced with several choices, according to the approach they want to adopt with their communication and the result they want to obtain in terms of outreach.
The current market can provide a wide range of cloud options, from a dedicated bare-metal infrastructure to a hybrid cloud solution, allowing businesses of all sizes to bring their marketing strategies to a whole new level. All of this on a pay per use model, no large upfront capital investments required.